A look at why Sadiq Khan gives football in London a wide berth
Sadiq Khan is nearing the end of his time on the campaign trail as he bids to be re-elected as London’s mayor. The 50-year-old, like all politicians over the course of history, has a tendency to divide opinions. It’s not just in London where voices of support or indeed anger can be heard but also further afield. Indeed, London’s global attraction means that it holds a special part in the heart of all those who have been fortunate enough to walk its historic streets. In essence, everyone feels a connection to the city and wants the best for it which has seen Khan come under fire over the last few years.
Naturally, given how many global voices contribute towards the conversation about London, the fault-finding can range from legitimate to bizarre.
Much of the heavy-hitting criticism levelled at Mr. Khan is based on his policies and perceived failures during his time at City Hall, but there are also trivial concerns about the 50-year-old’s football allegiance. It’s all said in jest really, but it has not been overlooked that Mr. Khan’s love for a particular football team lies over 220 miles from London. Was this a carefully planned allegiance when Mr. Khan first began to eye the dizzy heights of London’s mayor’s office or does he have a genuine love affair with Liverpool FC? After all, the odd on the new London Mayor show Mr. Kahn in the driving seat at 1/200 to be re-elected, would that have been the case had he been a Chelsea season ticket holder?
Passion, Spirit, Tribalism.
— Barnet FC 🐝 (@BarnetFC) April 18, 2021
When you consider how much tribalism plays a part in English football, it does seem wise to try and steer clear of any rivalries when you’re bidding to become mayor of a city that has no fewer than six Premier League clubs in it. It is perhaps best to let them fight it out amongst each other without having a horse in the race given that you can’t really be considered a man of the people if you’re celebrating Arsenal’s FA Cup win over Chelsea at Wembley. The obvious problem would be alienating some of the fans who trusted Mr Kahn with their vote. Now, that may sound peculiar to those in England and abroad who’ve never been able to grasp the level of passion in the English game, but for those who live, eat and sleep football, having a mayor who supports a team you dislike could certainly be a deal-breaker.
His phenomenal career, terrific talent and community leadership in the aftermath of Hillsborough has brought joy and hope to millions.pic.twitter.com/ZaUWz0oRG9
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 9, 2018
That’s not to say that Liverpool are the blue-eyed boys of English football, the 2019/2020 Premier League champions know how to get under the skin of opposing fans, but they’re just far enough up the M6 for Mr Khan to be given a free pass in this case.
Indeed, in a land where football is about heroes and tribes, loyalty and devotion, you can’t afford to misread the room when positioning yourself as the face of the city. Instead, Mr Khan will make the 400-mile round trip to watch his team play and leave the London teams to their own devices.